Is Your Company Culture like the Walking Dead?


Ok, I’ll admit it. I am a die-hard Walking Dead fan. I can’t seem to get enough zombie apocalypse:  imagining what it would be like surviving such a calamity, and the resulting greater horror of dealing with the remaining human population.

So why are zombies the new vampires in our pop culture? What is so appealing about these zombie shows that are captivating our national attention?  The intrigue, in my opinion, is that we can relate. We are all zombies in our lives to some degree, where, left to our comfort zones, we are sleepwalking.

We got Walkers

How often do you find your company culture completely lacking aliveness, creativity, and having real exchanges with customers, peers, and taking risks? In fact, in a study by the Gallop poll in 2011, they found that “Seventy-one percent of American workers are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.” 71%!  

In fact, of the 71% that are disengaged at work, 19% of them are actively disengaged. Meaning: they are actively causing harm in your business, not just passively killing time.

The ‘walker syndrome’ in the workplace is most easily connected to the fact that many people don’t have a relationship to meaning in their position in the business. They haven’t asked themselves what they want out of this work experience? What is their primary aim for being in the business? They can work anywhere, why here? And when this issue starts with the leadership team not having asked themselves these same questions, it’s a bleak outlook.

Culture of Ownership

The only way to reverse this trend is in establishing a culture of ownership from the top-down. I’ve had the privilege of being an employee and manager inside a company where the executive team challenged the status quo by doing the tough work in looking at themselves and clarifying  their brand of doing it, and setting the standard in how this translates into the business in a real, lived way.

I’ve seen real leaders make tough decisions that were not as lucrative in the short-term because there was a greater purpose that they were standing for, and stood behind  the bigger arch of the business development. I’ve experienced what happens when self-responsibility is the cultural norm, and walkers need not apply.

After this experience, it ruined me from working in any other organization that didn’t put attention on their company culture and lacked care in how they achieved their results. Almost all issues in a business come down to leadership and management challenges.

So where are the walkers in your business? Would you be able to identify them from the alive and thriving aspects of your business? How would you know if you’ve been bitten?